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INDIA bloc slams Modi for 'Ram temple-bulldozer' claim

May 18, 2024 17:48 IST

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge and other INDIA bloc leaders on Saturday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his claim that the opposition alliance would bulldoze the Ayodhya Ram temple if voted to power, and said they were committed to protecting the religious freedom of all citizens and ensuring that the country runs as per the Constitution.

IMAGE: Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge addresses the INDIA bloc joint press conference with Shiv Sena-UBT chief Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party-SP chief Sharad Pawar and others, in Mumbai on Saturday, May 18, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Kharge, Shiv Sena-UBT president Uddhav Thackeray, NCP-SP chief Sharad Pawar jointly addressed a press conference in Mumbai on the last day of the campaigning for the final phase of the Lok Sabha polls in the state on May 20.

These leaders responded to questions on PM Modi's charge that the opposition bloc will bulldoze the Ram temple, dilute quota for SC, ST and OBC categories and also restore Article 370 if voted to power.

Kharge accused PM Modi of inciting people over the issues "that the Congress will never do".

Thackeray said the INDIA bloc's government will complete the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, while Pawar said it will be the duty of their government to protect not just temples, but the places of worship of all religions.

Kharge also said reservation as enshrined in the Constitution will stay.

"We have never used a bulldozer on anyone. Modi has the habit of lying and inciting people about things which Congress will never do or which are impossible to be implemented," he said.


To a question on his party's stand on Article 370, Kharge said, "I am not answerable to Modi. We will implement what we have promised in our manifesto."

Attacking the PM, he said, "Wherever he goes, he tries to create division, speaks of dividing society."

Kharge said Modi speaks of providing free ration of 5 kg to 80 crore people.

"Our government enacted the Food Security Act and it is bound to implement it. The Congress has now said that we will give 10 kg free ration," he said.

Pawar said the previous government had taken the decision of the Food Security Act, but now Modi is taking credit for providing 5 kg free ration.

Thackeray said the INDIA alliance has several prime ministerial faces, while the BJP has only one and even that is not working.

"Now they cannot replace the face at the fag end of poll campaign. We have decided what we should do when we get the majority," he said.

Attacking the BJP and PM Modi for calling his party "nakli" (fake) Shiv Sena, Thackeray said the BJP will also call RSS as 'nakli Sangh'.

Citing BJP chief J P Nadda's interview, in which he said that BJP is capable and runs its own affairs, while the RSS is an ideological front and does its own work, Thackeray said, "BJP wants to disassociate itself with an organisation that gave birth to it."

The "jumla era" will end on June 4 and "achhe din" will come when the INDIA alliance comes to power, the Sena-UBT chief said.

He accused the BJP-led government of misusing of central probe agencies, and said the INDIA alliance government will restore the lost glory of Mumbai and Maharashtra.

Kharge said PM Modi is campaigning for a state government which has been formed by betrayal,

"I have never seen a PM who incites people and divides society in my 53 years of political life. Threat, blackmail and allurement tactics are used to break opposition parties on the directives of Modi, but people will defeat him," he said, adding that the opposition alliance will win 46 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

"We will simplify GST. People of India are looking at INDIA alliance with hope," he said,

Thackeray slammed the BJP for mocking him for using the word 'deshbhakt' (patriot) instead of Hindu while addressing gatherings.

"Aren't Hindus deshbhakts?...Those who oppose the word deshbhakts are anti-national," he said.

"Pakistan is in BJP's mind. Perhaps Modi still relishes (former Pakistan PM) Nawaz Sharif's birthday cake. Modi continuously remembers Pakistan. I have never seen Pakistan flags in my rallies," he said, adding that false narratives were set to divert people's attention from basic issues.

When asked about the assembly elections due later this year, Thackeray said the state polls will be fought more vigorously and unitedly and the alliance will win.

If BJP says Congress will bulldoze Ram mandir, that party will also ban RSS, Thackeray said.

"We have never used a bulldozer on anyone. Bulldozer is their government. This comment is to instigate and the Election Commission should take action against him. Our government will function as per the Constitution. We will protect everything,' Kharge said.

Asked about Mamata Banerjee's comment that she will support the INDIA alliance government and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary's remark that the Bengal CM cannot be trusted and she might go with the BJP, Kharge said,
"Mamata Banerjee is with the alliance. She has recently said that she will join the government. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary will not take the decision. The decision will be taken by me and the high command those who don't agree will go out."

"Modi's speech is divisive and meant to instigate. I have never seen such a prime minister," he said.

Kharge slammed Modi for labelling the Congress's manifesto as that of Maoists. "Who is your advisor Modiji...This is laughable. You can't fool all the people every time," he said.

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